Day 55 (Pete)

I am forced to write this all the way stuffed down into my sleeping beg. It is stuffy and cramped in here. Fortunately, however, I am not being sucked down to a bony corpse by the militia of mosquitoes hovering outside.

The hot pool we half scouted last night had a thick crust of mysterious glop covering its entire surface. It looked like public school lunch pan pizza with a thin veneer of orange Jell-O gelatin alternately microwaved and sun staled over the coarse of a season. Cleaning the pool out looked like a serious job. Neither of us were brave enough to penetrate its murky depths as it was. So, we headed off to a civilized hot spring, adjacent to a store and cafe, at Red’s Meadow.

Ambling up to the store, it looked closed. There was a closed sign, first clue. It looked more closed than just that. Everything was in disarray and there were carpenters furiously working on something. We sat down and ate what we could scrap together from our decimated rations. Dylan needed sunglasses, we were hungry DAMNIT, and the town of Mammoth Lakes was twelve miles away seven of which were on a closed road. In the midst of our despair, I glanced over to see what was causing all the commotion. It was Smith.

Smith was a pasty white pubescent with a fish hook embedded in his left arm. The carpenters, between tasteless “skill-saw” jokes, were trying to cut the thing out. They had a stick in Smiths mouth for him to bite on just like in the movies. “Here Poncho, have a draw on this whiskey and bite this bullet.” He looked to be on the verge of sheer panic and screamed as best he could. All this to the soundtrack of two back to back smash hits from Steve Miller squawking out of the workman’s radio. Fortunately, they couldn’t get it out.

While Smith sat in the hospital and his chaperone filled out forms, Dyl and I perused Mammoth Lakes. He got sunglasses, we restocked our rations, and gorged ourselves silly. The green van/ Red’s Meadow chariot reappeared and we hurriedly gathered our stuff up for the return trip. “Well, how was it Smith?”

“Didn’t feel a thing.”

The hot pool was hot. It took some easing into; but, eventually, each of us had an opportunity to melt off umpteen alternating layers of dirt, sunscreen, and bug repellent. Today was easy, a bit of a vacation. It all rounded out nicely with a leisurely five or six mile stroll through the well trodden and very small Devil’s Postpile National Monument. We enjoyed trotting along the wide path, reading the geologically informative signs, tossing our candy wrappers in the trail side receptacles and generally acting like the tourists that, at heart, we really are. I’m suffocating… near death…

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